The onset of Spring (at least on the calendar) has always represented a new beginning to me, as I tend to reflect on what could be improved in my personal and professional life around this time of year. Never one to commit to a New Years Resolution, I suppose this seems like a more appropriate time of year for me to plan and commit, as it is a transitional season and typically the start of warmer weather here in the Midwest (fret not fellow northerners – it always shows up eventually).
This is especially true for me this year, as I’m in a state of transition (dare I say…RENEWAL) in many areas of my life, with my latest business venture leading the way. In many ways I’ve been forced to reevaluate my (1) priorities, (2) lifestyle, (3) identity and (4) future all in one fell swoop and it has been a humbling process indeed. I can’t help but to think I needed humility in my own life in order to position me for a greater mission in business and in life.
A perpetual driver and achiever, I’m reminded of the infamous quote by one of France’s greatest statesmen, Charles de Gaulle:
"The graveyards are full of indispensable men."
Indeed they are Chuck.
This year, the theme of my personal transition is “Finding a Greater Purpose.” In business, this has meant sucking it up and accepting the realization that working for someone else has become burdensome and counterproductive and my contributions to the professional world would be maximized by starting my own advisory business.
Along with this realization comes a plethora of thoughts and feelings I haven’t experienced in awhile, at least not with this level of intensity. High up on this list is FEAR, which I always thought had no place in business. But I’ve come to realize that fear is, in fact, a tremendous motivator and has placed some needed urgency behind this venture.
Fear is tricky, in that it can debilitate and destroy if not acted upon. We’ve all likely heard the universal axiom that courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to act in the face of it. Repeated courageous acts build confidence and transform fear into sustenance for a long journey – this opposed to fear becoming an insurmountable obstacle…which it becomes for many.
Whenever fear starts to become counterproductive, I try to remind myself that all great men and women have faced their greatest fears head-on and those fears have become the very impetus for their success. They have not allowed their fears to define them, but rather they defined themselves and their journeys by listening to what their fears told them about themselves and using that knowledge to overcome their greatest obstacles.
Like all emotions, fear is a natural human response to a set of conditions. Our emotions are designed to GUIDE us, not IMPEDE us. In what has become an increasingly touchy-feely society, it’s critical to remember that emotions are biological in nature, and they are there to help us succeed in life. However, they can’t help us unless we subjugate them to our higher intellectual and spiritual selves --- we need to COMPREHEND what our emotions are telling us and TAKE ACTION accordingly, which starts with a conscious acknowledgement of the emotion, followed by an intentional action.
As I set out to define my future and help business leaders to define the futures of their organizations, I thought this would be a worthwhile topic for my first post. I’m interested to hear how others have re-defined themselves, personally or professionally, and how, in the process, you’ve managed to master your own fears.